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For the seventh year running, Canadian Occupational Safety is honoured to share the results of its annual Readers’ Choice awards. Each year, we reach out to our knowledgeable readers to find out their preferred OHS vendors and suppliers. And each year, we’re happy to see hundreds of people respond to our call and share their favourites.
What makes these awards so special – and so popular – is that the winners gain an opportunity to be selected by a vast jury of their peers and are able to show how their hard work has paid off. One of our most celebrated awards programs, the Readers’ Choice awards represent the trust that COS’s readers have placed in the publication over the years. This report is particularly festive as COS marks its 60th anniversary in 2023.
COS started in March 1963 as a magazine published by Cash Crop Farming, a small publishing firm in Delhi, Ontario. Over the past decades, the publication has witnessed the monumental shifts in the OHS sector. Now an integral part of Canada’s OHS landscape, COS reaches hundreds of thousands of readers regularly, and its awards programs – including Readers’ Choice – highlight the best and brightest professionals and organizations in the sector.
“We owe a duty of care to our customers and employers and to the workers affected by the training we provide”
Wes Mazur, Mazur Safety
For this year’s winners, their Readers’ Choice awards are definitely special.
“It’s an honour to be recognised by our clients and peers and [the award] is a testament to our team’s dedication to deliver the best safety training and consulting we can,” says Wes Mazur, founder of Mazur Safety. “We owe a duty of care to our customers and employers and to the workers affected by the training we provide.”
Laurie Amiruddin, vice president for standards education & services at CSA Group, says: “CSA Group’s educational programs enhance the lives of Canadians by guiding the application of health, safety, and sustainability standards in workplaces and communities. We appreciate this recognition of our engaging learning experiences and supportive interventions that improve the performance of our learners. Our innovative instructor-led and online courses and support tools combine a rigorous instructional design methodology with access to industry expertise.”
This is a sentiment echoed by another winner, Alcumus, whose representative says: “As we continue to build and strengthen our solutions, it brings us excitement and pride to see how we have been able to spark change in the EHS industry and inspire leaders across Canada. Our mission is to help create safer, more sustainable workplaces, and this is a part of our DNA and embedded in everything we say and do. This recognition is a testament to our mission, which we continue to live and breathe every day.”
As mentioned, being valued by their peers makes such a difference for these organizations.
“Being nominated by one’s peers is the highest form of recognition and is complementary to the mission and vision of the BCRSP,” says Robin Angel, governing board chair of BCRSP. “Being selected as a winner of the Readers’ Choice Award 2022 is validation to the Governing Board and all the BCRSP volunteers that the effort to ensure a high-quality certification standard is achieved, and is recognized and appreciated by the safety profession and employers.”
For another winner, Rillea Technologies, the hardships caused by the pandemic make the win even sweeter. “The pandemic has added more tasks to the safety professional’s workload than ever before. It’s not easy for them to find time to assess new products. Risking budgets on tools that may not work is not an option. Awards like the COS Readers’ Choice highlight products that colleagues use and find valuable enough to tell others about. That carries a lot of weight in decision-making,” says Lisa Hallsworth, the company’s chief executive.
Acknowledging the significance of Blackline Safety’s award, a company representative says: “When it comes to safety technology, customers and investors want to feel confident they are partnering with organizations who are trusted, reliable and responsive — with an established track record. Awards like these provide third-party validation of our solutions, growth and success and are additional proof points on our journey to building credibility and establishing trust.”
“Ensuring those in the profession are qualified and possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed is of paramount importance”
Robin Angel, BCRSP
Traditionally one of the biggest categories in the Readers’ Choice awards, OHS training has evolved over the last couple of years to keep up with the changes brought about by the pandemic and the increased adoption of tech solutions.
Amiruddin at CSA Group says that proper training is so important for health and safety professionals because “engaging in safety training is preventative and proactive for safety professionals and their organizations.” The Group’s courses and support materials tap into the expertise of the volunteer technical committee members who write the organization’s numerous standards, which have exceeded 3,000.
“They anticipate potential risks that can be mitigated by following consistent and proven guidelines,” says Amiruddin.
On their end, the BCRSP says that it supports raising the bar for safety education and training through its certification eligibility standards and continuous professional development requirements.
“Safety professionals give advice to employers, associations, agencies, and clients on how to assess, mitigate, and manage OHS risks in the workplace. Ensuring those in the profession are qualified and possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed is of paramount importance,” says Angel.
And on the tech side – which encompasses many of the Readers’ Choice categories – Alcumus, one of the winners in the mobile app category, emphasizes the importance of tech because mobile apps are now ubiquitous in workplaces “and put the speed and power of delivering safety in the hands of every worker.”
“Leaders across Canada have been inundated with information on how to lead their teams into the future and mobile apps help bridge the gap between every stakeholder in the business,” says the spokesperson from Alcumus. “They put EHS management, ESG, and supply chain management solutions in the hands of every team member, allowing [employees] to retrieve reports and data crucial to keeping a business moving forward and rectifying key gaps and issues.”
Tech is also important in making sure that isolated or lone workers are safe. “Lone workers are, by definition, working [by themselves] and away from other people who would be able to help if needed. This makes them vulnerable,” says Blackline’s representative. “Lone worker technology — for example, wearable cloud-connected devices with safety features like a manual SOS latch, automatic features like no-motion, fall and or/gas detection, or time-based features like missed check-ins — can reduce this vulnerability. This provides peace of mind and confidence to both safety professionals and employees that their safety is accounted for.”
The integration of tech into the OHS profession has been accelerated by the pandemic, with so many new solutions cropping up every day. And on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) management side, tech solutions are equally important.
“Safety professionals struggle to manage the administrative tasks of SDSs, which can cut into the time needed for the real purpose of WHMIS – to assess the hazards and protect employees. Additionally, if a safety professional’s background is not in chemical safety, this work can be an intimidating, challenging and time-consuming task,” says Hallsworth of Rillea Technologies.
She notes that tools that automate tasks and enable faster and better decisions are invaluable to safety professionals and their organizations. Furthermore, being able to track information and make training available to employees “will become more important as regulators work to reduce the high levels of occupational disease in Canadian workplaces,” she says.
In such a demanding environment, the Readers’ Choice winners provide the most effective solutions for the health and safety needs of organizations in Canada.
“Awards like the COS Readers’ Choice highlight products that colleagues use and find valuable enough to tell others about. That carries a lot of weight in decision-making”
Lisa Hallsworth, Rillea Technologies
The survey for the Canadian Occupational Safety’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 took place between March 7 and April 1, 2022. The COS team compiled for nomination an impressive list of vendors and suppliers to the OHS community from across the country, based on the team’s knowledge and additional research within each area.
Readers were invited to cast their ballots in an online survey, and responses were completely confidential. Research participants were asked to rate products and services available to the OHS profession across a number of categories including consultants, emergency management, ergonomics, facility safety, and more. The top three nominees who received the most overall votes were awarded the Readers’ Choice designation.